01 September 2022
With over 20,781km of coastline, West Australia has a lifetime of beaches to visit. From the shining emerald Indian ocean enveloping Broome, to the crystal clear waters off Esperance – WA is surrounded by water vistas famous around the world – so it makes sense that teaching our kids to swim is about as Aussie as it comes.
But as large as the stunning coastline is, the interior of WA is even larger, and to some people, even more stunning. Even in the middle of nowhere you’ll find local rivers, creeks and backyard or community pools swarming with kids both young and old escaping the heavy summer sun.
Water safety awareness and the ability to swim are central to the Western Australian lifestyle. The climate and diversity of waterways promote a range of social, recreational, and sporting activities that provide extensive health, economic and social cohesion outcomes to the community.
Nearly 1000km northeast of Perth is a small town called Leinster that 700 residents and 700 FiFo workers call home.
Catering to this small town is a big pool. An Olympic sized pool, complete with a baby pool and grassy knoll to relax on.
It is at this pool where Royal Life Saving Australia is teaching local kids all about vital swimming and water safety skills. Skills that will come in handy in our swimming-obsessed nation.
Senior Manager, Swimming & Water Safety Education, Trent Hotchkin, has been working with Royal Life Saving for 20 years. For him, it’s a passion to ensure that kids can learn to swim and survive.
But it’s not only about the swimming. For him, it’s the feel-good impact that he can do for the local communities and Western Australia in general.
“Royal Life Saving WA is committed to teaching every child to Swim and Survive, and we recognise that this task is all the more important given WA’s climate and lifestyle that encourages so much activity in and on the water. The challenge we face is to ensure that each new generation acquires these skills, and no one misses out.”
Since its inception in 1909, Royal Life Saving has had 20 million participants.
And its ‘Swim and Survive’ program which opened over 35 years ago sees more than 345,000 people picking up water safety skills annually.
Royal Life Saving offers several programs at Leinster and across the regions, but it’s not just about swimming. They take a holistic approach to water safety. So while there are swimming programs from infant aquatics for toddlers and babies, to Swim and Survive for older kids, they also offer first aid skills and bronze medallions to make sure that everyone at the pool is safe.
BHP is the principal community partner, which has enabled Royal Life Saving to operate in 14 regional communities, including Leinster. And while swimming and water safety is the main goal, supporting Royal Life Savings also supports the physical health, education, engagement and employment in West Australia.
“We’re really pleased and proud of the partnership that we have with BHP. They’ve enabled us to have a huge impact throughout the state. And that’s particularly ensuring that more kids can learn to swim and survive, and everyone in the community is safe around water.”